Belief: Its Power and Limitations Part 4By Pastor Boffey on Sunday, March 5, 2023.
IX. Because many assume that the faith/belief of the sinner is the means to procure eternal forgiveness of sin and also to procure everlasting life (combined = eternal salvation), undue significance is therefore assigned to both belief and to unbelief. A. This system usually consists of two camps: those who hold that belief is always indispensably necessary to procure eternal salvation, and those who hold that belief is only necessary to procure eternal salvation in some cases. B. The “indispensably necessary” crowd draw hard lines: absolutely nobody who has not positively responded in faith to the gospel has eternal salvation. 1. This includes gospel deniers, the uninformed, the unabled (babies, severely handicapped, etc.). There is no Plan B for them whatsoever. 2. Those “believers” who hold this position therefore cannot with clear conscience not sacrifice everything to facilitate the spread of the gospel to unbelievers. But reality shows otherwise and they end up holding that God will save them because of their belief but eternally damn the victims of their indifference. 3. They necessarily also assume that they have the power to eternally damn unbelievers to hell and beyond by not sharing the gospel with them. 4. Thus, this system lays claim to double power associated with belief or unbelief: the power of eternal life and the power of eternal damnation. a. This is akin to rebellion and witchcraft which are illegitimate grasps at power. 1SAM 15:23. b. The power of eternal life is the sole property of Jesus Christ. JOH 17:2. c. Only God has power to cast body and soul into hell. LUK 12:4-5. 5. This logic applies to any system that makes anything in this world a necessary agent for the procuring of eternal salvation: sinner’s faith, ordinance, sacrament, church organization, etc. Paul interestingly referred to the Galatians’ reliance upon such as being bewitched. GAL 3:1. C. The “sometimes necessary” crowd holds that only those who have had an opportunity to respond to the gospel are bound by its call to faith for procuring eternal salvation (and condemned if they do not believe it). It is assumed that all who are unable to respond (the uninformed, babies, severely handicapped) are saved on the basis of God’s mercy in spite of no belief of the gospel. 1. This system first of all must concede that the gospel is not even necessary for the acquisition of eternal life since, if men can be saved without it, it isn’t necessary. 2. This system turns the gospel into an instrument of eternal damnation for people who were already eternally safe. a. They might reject the gospel and be condemned for their unbelief. b. It would thus be better that unbelievers be left in pre-gospel ignorance. c. Since the majority of the human race in all of history have not heard about Jesus Christ, this system must conclude that the majority are eternally saved. d. Behold the power of unbelief! 3. This system’s faulty premise is the basis for inventions like “age of accountability” or “Jews will be eternally saved without belief in Jesus Christ.” a. Paradoxically, proponents of this system tend to denounce as dangerous heresy the idea that God can save sinners in spite of their unbelief! b. Scripture actually declares that some Jews will be eternally saved without belief in the gospel of Jesus Christ. ROM 11:26-29. c. The “all Israel” of ROM 11:26 are all of “the Israel of God” (GAL 6:16), “the children of the promise,” the Jacobs (no Esaus), the remnant seed, “the Belief, Its Power And Limitations 2-5-23 Page 7 remnant according to the election of grace” (ROM 9:8, 13, 27-29; 11:5). d. The biblical truth about God’s election among the Jews is manifestly different from the position that all Jews are God’s elect and so do not even need the gospel. 4. This system sometimes reasons that God will not let all the unabled off the hook because of their circumstances but will judge them according to the degree of light that they have from nature: there is still accountability to perform acts of which God approves. a. Thus, the gospel is not THE way to eternal salvation, just one of many ways. b. Therefore, the gospel is not necessary and they should stop affirming it so. 5. While decrying the biblical doctrine of God’s sovereign election of some sinners unto eternal salvation and life, this system relies upon it for its evangelism. a. The missionary has limited time, ability and resources to take the offer of eternal salvation to every place. b. He must choose to go to a particular place to the disregard of another place, in which case any converts will obtain eternal life on the basis of the missionary’s election. c. Sensing the distastefulness of this, the missionary pleads with God to please show him which land he should go to with his message: he asks God to sovereignly elect which people to save! d. There is no escaping some kind of election when it comes to sinners’ salvation: the choice will be God’s according to His own will, the sinner’s according to his own incapacited and God-rejecting will, or by passing the buck to God to decide who should be saved in order to relieve the conscience of the missionary. D. Mind how so much undue power is assigned to belief and unbelief in such schemes of eternal salvation. 1. Some even say that unbelief is the one sin that God will never forgive. God may forgive a rapist, child molester, thief, tyrant, etc. who never had a chance to hear the gospel but He will never forgive someone who does not believe the gospel he hears. 2. Unbelief is indeed a sin. JOH 16:9-10. 3. But if unbelief is a sin which God will never forgive, then that sin remains a blot on his record to condemn him even if he one day believes. 4. Inasmuch as all men are at some point unbelievers, none may dwell with the God who will never forgive the sin of unbelief. 5. Paul obtained mercy for what he did ignorantly in unbelief! 1TI 1:12-15. 6. Christ died for the taking away of sin by the ransom payment of His blood. a. If Christ died for all of the sins of all men, then all are eternally saved. But Scripture denies such a proposition. MAT 25:41. b. If Christ died for only some of the sins of all men (unbelief being one such exception), then all men have sin to answer for which shall condemn them. c. If Christ died for some of the sins of only some men (an elect group), they also have sin to answer for which shall condemn them. d. If Christ died for all the sins of only some men (an elect group), then all of that group have no sin to answer for on Judgment Day, and this is the truth. 7. It is not only the sin of ignorant unbelief (as Paul) that God can and will forgive. More on this later but remember ROM 11:26-29; NUM 20:12 c/w MAT 17:2-3. E. The problem with the common theory of how sinners are saved from death unto life is that it has a proposition becoming true upon belief of it while it is not true. Belief, Its Power And Limitations 2-5-23 Page 8 1. The unsaved man to whom Jesus IS NOT savior must believe Jesus IS his savior in order to MAKE Him such. At a time when Jesus is not his savior, he is supposed to confess, “Jesus is my savior.” 2. The system holds that the unsaved sinner must be convinced of his sinfulness while he is still unsaved and unchanged: he is a natural man only. He must believe what Scripture declares about natural man, an impossible thing (1CO 2:14). If he is not convinced of this, he will do nothing. 3. To illustrate this error, look at it from the other side. a. Scripture teaches that Adam's sin caused all men to be sinners under a sentence of death. ROM 5:12. b. Someone who is ignorant of this fact is not exempt from it, nor would his belief or unbelief of this fact change the fact. Remember: belief or unbelief of a reality does not cause, negate or alter a reality. c. When a sinner is told of his Adamic nature, his rejection of that information would change nothing: Adam was his sin-giver; he has Adam's sin nature. d. But neither would his belief of it change anything: his belief did not MAKE Adam his sin-giver nor suddenly MAKE him have Adam's sin nature. Adam condemned all his posterity, whether they believe it or not. e. Jesus Christ shall certainly save all His posterity, whether they believe it or not. 1CO 15:21-22. f. The performance and fruits of these two federal heads (Adam, Christ) are facts that cannot be caused, negated or altered by belief or unbelief. 4. Belief is a subjective experience: what one believes does not make it so. One may think himself to be something when he is nothing. GAL 6:3. a. One cannot by thought add a cubit to his stature. MAT 6:27. b. One cannot by thought alter the reality of his/her biology. c. The dead can’t think, and natural man is spiritually dead. EPH 2:1. d. To make one's belief (an effect of eternal life, ACT 13:48) into the means to acquire eternal life makes as much sense as telling a blind man that he can have sight if he reads the directions on the page, or telling a corpse that he can have life if he will simply get out of the coffin. 5. Belief cannot affect reality but it can affect one’s perception, understanding and response to reality. More on this later... X. The eternal salvation of sinners is a covenant salvation ordered by God and faithfully performed by God. HEB 13:20 c/w 1PE 1:2-5. A. This covenant is secure in spite of the beneficiary’s flaws (2SAM 23:2-5), analogous to the named heirs of a man’s will which cannot be changed after his death. GAL 3:15. B. God made an enduring covenant with the earth and mankind that He would never again destroy either by a global flood. GEN 8:21; 9:11. 1. Can the sinner’s unbelief of this reality thwart it? 2. Is it the sinner’s belief of this reality what makes it effective? 3. God confirmed this covenant with the token of the rainbow. GEN 9:12-17. a. Does man’s belief or unbelief of the connection of the rainbow with God’s covenant affect that fact in any way? b. A blind man's belief or unbelief of what he cannot confirm with his senses neither MAKES nor UNDOES the rainbow or that covenant. C. God made a sworn promise to David that He would raise up Christ to his throne and neither belief nor unbelief affected or affects that reality either. ACT 2:30-31; PSA 2:1-5. Belief, Its Power And Limitations 2-5-23 Page 9
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